Common Crawling Questions Answered by a Childhood Development Expert

Baby Milestones Fisher-Price Smilestones Tips for Parents

June 6, 2023

Curious about crawling? You’ve come to the right place.

Hi, I’m Lisa, and I’m an early childhood development expert (and mom of two). Throughout my years of working with parents, I’ve helped answer a lot the questions you’re probably asking yourself right now. From “When will my baby start crawling?” to “How can I help my baby crawl?” to “Is it weird that my baby only moves backwards?” (Spoiler: it’s totally normal).

As with any physical milestone, every baby reaches it in their own time, at their own pace. So, while I can’t give you an exact “first crawl” date, I can share a timeline for when to expect signs that they’re ready, help you recognize those signs, and give you some tips & tricks to get them started.


Why is crawling so important?

So many good things happen when babies start crawling. Research tells us (and years of observation has shown me) that it helps all areas of your baby’s development—physical, cognitive and social-emotional.

Coordination & balance

One of the more obvious benefits of crawling is the development of large motor skills (AKA physical skills). As your baby begins to support their own weight by balancing on all fours, their little muscles are putting in big work. Eventually, this ladders up to cruising, walking and running.

Navigation skills & spatial understanding

When your baby crawls, they start to get a sense of the world and their place in it. Your new crawler might stop at obstacles or try to go through them rather than go around them. But with practice (and a little problem-solving), they’ll quickly learn to navigate their surroundings.


Figuring out how to move on your own comes with quite a sense of accomplishment! The more your baby crawls, the more it helps build their self-confidence. And once they get going, there’s no stopping them!

How to know if your baby is ready to crawl

There are some things you might notice your baby doing as they get ready to start crawling. Look for these signs: 

  • Doing mini pushups during tummy time
  • Lifting or propping themselves up using their arms 
  • Lifting themselves up on both arms & knees 
  • Rocking forward & back when on all fours 

3. Be their crawling buddy.

Everything is more fun with a friend, right? So, show your almost-crawler how it’s done—get down on all fours and crawl along with them!

Surprising crawling tips

It’s always a good idea to have some tricks up your parenting sleeve.

1. Use toys to guide them from belly to back.

While your baby lifts their head, slowly move their favorite toy to one side. As they turn their head to follow the toy, begin to move the toy upward. This encourages them to lift their upper body and twist to begin to roll on their back.

2. Reverse it: Use toys to guide them from back to belly.

While on their back, shake a favorite toy in your baby’s line of sight. Once their vision is locked in on the toy, slowly move it to one side and around the top of their head in a circular motion. Eventually, they’ll twist and turn their whole body toward the object and roll onto their belly!

3. Plank it.

Babies six months or older may start to find tummy time too easy! Make it a little harder by putting them in a plank. Rest their legs on top of yours and place their arms underneath their shoulders on the floor in a plank position.

Crawling timeline

Most babies typically begin to crawl between 7 and 10 months old. But remember, physical milestones are not set in stone because every baby is different.

4 to 7 months

  • pushes up on hands during tummy time
  • chest off the ground
  • crawls/pushes backwards
  • rolls side to side or in a circular pattern

8 to 12 months

  • gets up on hands and knees
  • rocks back and forth on hands and knees
  • crawls/pulls forward on stomach (commando crawl)
  • crawls on hands and knees
  • crawls on hands and feet (bear crawl)

Crawling styles

Babies don’t just start crawling at different times, they also tend to do it their own unique ways. So, don’t stress if your little one breaks out one of the non-classic styles (or invents their own). There’s no wrong way to crawl!

The Roller
Often a precursor to crawling, they use their entire body to roll from one place to the next.

The Bottom Scoot
While not technically “crawling”, many babies will sit upright & use their arms to scoot around.

The Classic
Up on hands and knees, moving one arm and the opposite knee forward at the same time.

The Bear
“Walks” on hands and feet, keeping their elbows and knees straight.

The Belly (or Commando)
Their body is mainly flat as they slither around on their belly while moving forward.

The Crab
Pushing up with their arms, they move either backward or sideways.

Parent check-in

So, how are you feeling about crawling?

Excited? Nervous? Maybe even a little sad (because it means they’re getting bigger)? All totally valid feelings.

Crawling is a big move for your baby—and it can be a pretty moving experience for you, too. Up until now, your baby has needed you to go, well, anywhere. And soon, they’ll have their own way to get around. It is quite literally their first move towards independence.

But just know that whether they’re crawling, walking, or heading off to school, they’ll still need (and want) you there to guide them—and cheer them on.

Gentle reminder: If you ever have concerns about your child’s development, trust your gut and reach out to your pediatrician.”

Bringing a smile to milestones.

Say hello to happier parenting. We’re here to help you celebrate the little victories, let go of expectations, and pick up more positivity. Because after more than 90 years of helping families, we’ve learned that development happens naturally when fun leads the way.

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